President's Message Issue 65

Winter 2007 CSANews Issue 65  |  Posted date : May 22, 2008.Back to list

As you know, I am now coming to the end of my second term as president of this great association. It has been four very busy years in which I have had the opportunity, on behalf of our members, to meet many important political figures in both Canada and the United States. Both my wife Joan and I have done our best – with quite a lot of success – to promote the goals of the association to federal and provincial leaders across Canada, as well as to the leaders of several U.S. states. I will not go on to talk about the successes which we have had; you can read about them in other areas of CSANews.

One of the biggest concerns that we have as travellers in Canada is the failure of most of the provinces to obey the Canada Health Act. I discussed this in the last issue of CSANews.

In this issue's "Bird Talk," you will be able to read a letter from one of our members who had a problem with his provincial health care while out of the country. If every member, together with everyone else who travels out of the country, were to write to his/her premier and health minister and complain about their failure to obey the portability section of the act, we might get some positive action. Remember, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

Another area of concern to many members is the property tax issue in Florida. Whether you own or rent property in the state, you are being penalized unless you are a permanent resident of Florida. In the early 1990s, Florida introduced the Homestead Act which gave permanent residents the first $25,000 of their property assessment free of tax. Then, in 1995, they introduced the "save our homes" state constitutional amendment which capped the remainder of their property tax assessment at three per cent per year. What this did was to lay the burden of property taxes on the shoulders of snowbirds (out-of-state property owners) who have their permanent homes elsewhere than in Florida.

Since 2001, we have seen government and local council spending get out of control, which has resulted in property taxes getting out of control. As an example, if you take two identical homes side by side, you will find that the snowbird will be paying up to 10 times the property tax of the permanent resident. If a permanent resident happens to own more than one property, only the principal residence is covered under the Homestead Act. This means that should they rent this property out to winter residents, they will not be covered by the act or the "save our homes" amendment. These additional costs will, therefore, be passed on to the seasonal resident in the form of higher rent.

On November 17, 2006, together with our legal counsel Wallace Weylie, I presented our concerns and proposed solution to Florida's Property Tax Reform Committee in Tampa, Florida. A copy of this proposal can be seen on our website at www.snowbirds.org.

The biggest problem which we have concerning this issue is that voters will be the ones making the decision, and I do not expect that they will be prepared to vote to increase their taxes. This has resulted in many snowbirds flocking to other warm destinations. The one thing that the politicians and voters have not realized is that if snowbirds – both Canadian and American – decide to leave Florida, who will be left to foot the bill?

On October 24, I had the pleasure, along with Chris Bradbury of Medipac, of speaking at a meeting of Sunoco retirees. The association has recently launched a special promotion aimed at the retirees' clubs and societies of corporations in Canada. It was an excellent presentation, with many individuals taking advantage of our special first-year membership offer. If any CSA member belongs to an employer retiree group, and would like to have the association make a similar presentation, please contact the CSA office.

Our next meeting will be the Extravaganza and Annual General Meeting in Lakeland, Florida on January 29 and 30, 2008. I would encourage all members who can, to attend the AGM. This is your association and you should see how it is managed. This will also be my last opportunity to speak to you as your president.

You can be assured that this will not be the last that you will see of both Joan and me. In my role as past-president, we will be attending Snowbird Lifestyle Presentations and Winter Information Meetings, as well as attending Canadian Clubs and picnics.

I wish our incoming new president Don Gardiner every success. I will be on hand to provide him and the new board any assistance that I can.

I would like to thank you all for your support over the last four years.

Joan and I would like to wish all of our members a safe, happy and healthy holiday season.